Alternating Break Poll

Does alternating break favor the lesser player in a match?

  • <500 Yes

    Votes: 8 24.2%
  • <500 No

    Votes: 5 15.2%
  • >500 Yes

    Votes: 16 48.5%
  • >500 No

    Votes: 4 12.1%

  • Total voters
    33
  • Poll closed .

Willowbrook Wolfy

Going pro
Gold Member
In your opinion does alternate break give the lesser player in a match a better chance to win?

Vote by yes or no and what you estimate your playing ability to be please. There is 1 yes and no for under 500’s and 1 yes or no for over 500’s

I want to see if different levels feel differently on this one.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
The better breaker is not always the better player. Still, the better player, on average, breaks more than half the time in winner breaks.

My answer is that alternate breaks "usually, but not always" favors the weaker player. Still, as many of the most elite players to whom I've talked favor alternate break as not.
 

L.S. Dennis

Well-known member
Certainly if you want to encourage more interaction and interplay between two players then of course alternate break will be preferable. If on the other hand you're content with watching one player planted in his/her chair while the other is breaking and running out time after time then the winner break format would be your preference.
 

Rocket354

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I voted yes, but that's for strong players. For league play, some of these 300ish players get no advantage from breaking. They rarely make a ball, and scratch surprisingly often. As well, they are less accustomed to deal with the clusters their poor breaks leave.

But at 600+, sure it helps the weaker player get to the table.
 

Willowbrook Wolfy

Going pro
Gold Member
The better breaker is not always the better player. Still, the better player, on average, breaks more than half the time in winner breaks.

My answer is that alternate breaks "usually, but not always" favors the weaker player. Still, as many of the most elite players to whom I've talked favor alternate break as not.
Now would you say thatd be more to the effect of wanting pool to be harder at the top levels? Something like alternating break you have to play at that top level and stay at it longer to win type thing? Because obviously all the pros can and will run out given the opportunity.

So what I’m getting at is they’d rather have to play at an higher level longer than catch a gear or have their opponent catch his/her gear for 7 games and winning he or she has to stay at that level for 14 games? Sorry, I’m just putting my thoughts on paper.

I just watched something with Jennifer Beretta answering a few pool questions. And she said she loves alternating break because she always has another shot even when she messes up. I mean that pretty much summed it up that alt break can be a little handicap also.
 

sjm

Older and Wiser
Silver Member
Now would you say thatd be more to the effect of wanting pool to be harder at the top levels? Something like alternating break you have to play at that top level and stay at it longer to win type thing? Because obviously all the pros can and will run out given the opportunity.

So what I’m getting at is they’d rather have to play at an higher level longer than catch a gear or have their opponent catch his/her gear for 7 games and winning he or she has to stay at that level for 14 games? Sorry, I’m just putting my thoughts on paper.

I just watched something with Jennifer Beretta answering a few pool questions. And she said she loves alternating break because she always has another shot even when she messes up. I mean that pretty much summed it up that alt break can be a little handicap also.
I can't say you are wrong, but in my experience, and I've discussed this with many elite pros, those favoring alternate break at the top level see nine ball like tennis, where players attempt to break serve and are always ensured another chance to serve soon.

Of course, players are not inclined to think about what works for the fans. For me, I think pool's a little more marketable with winner breaks. Fans like me enjoy seeing players string racks.

Right now, the Matchroom majors use a tough break rule and super-tight equipment. This almost ensures that both players get lots of chances at the table. When we saw a couple of exceptions in 2023 at the UK Open and the US Open, we all understood just how special it was.
 
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Cameron Smith

is kind of hungry...
Silver Member
I can't say you are wrong, but in my experience, and I've discussed this with many elite pros, those favoring alternate break at the top level see nine ball like tennis, where players attempt to break serve and are always ensured another chance to serve soon.

Of course, players are not inclined to think about what works for the fans. For me, I think pool's a little more marketable with winner breaks. Fans like me enjoy seeing players string racks. Right now, the Matchroom majors use a tough break rule and super-tight equipment. This almost ensures that both players get lots of chances at the table.
I agree. If we look at every game that has captivated the public at some point (14.1, English Billiards, Snooker, 3 Cushion/Straight Rail), they’ve all had some high run component to them. And those high runs have been a significant talking point, whether it’s records or just frequency. Alternating breaks for me is like regressing 14.1 before they began leaving the break ball out.
 

gerard soriano

HIGH RUN STILL TO COME !
Silver Member
I think favor might not be the word. I feel lesser players believe they have more of a chance to " hang " if the better player can't run racks. I will always think if you win the game you should break. IMHO
 

Willowbrook Wolfy

Going pro
Gold Member
Maybe;

But what justification do you have for letting the other player start shooting when the current player has not missed and has not fouled ???
A lot of members here have said alternating break doesn’t matter. So I just threw up a poll to see how other players(and those that don’t like to comment) felt on the matter.

I prefer winner break and loser racks personally, but can understand the rack your own concept too. At the same time I have a really good break to pocket the 9 occasionally and racking your own nullifies the easy win. Plus I know how to break a bad rack. That used to be part of the game. And if the racks were bad you could always ask for a rerack in an action game anyway.

My opinion on alternating break is mostly due to the pool scene being different when I started playing. Now everybody wants the game to be fair. Really?! I refuse to take a handicap from anyone in a money match 95% of the time. Unless losing a few sets first. They can be a 800-doesnt matter. The better player should win a set most of the time. Losing is part of the game. If you want to win more you better up yours not get a better handicap. Not saying people didn’t get spots back then. But any player wanting a spot back then was just a “banger” in my eyes. I wouldn’t even give them the time of day. Never been about the money for me. I had a job for that.

On a side note to the ranting. I don’t know about the younger crowd of high skilled players. But a lot of the Older, higher skilled players will respect you more if you play them even. A lot of them will help you out more with your game if you are paying. Otherwise don’t expect to learn much from many of the older crowd. They will just toy with you, and intentionally go the wrong way on balls, etc. I do it all the time when somebody wants a spot and I’m not even that good.

On the other side. I had an APA 4 play me even. In return, he got my best game and a few extra misses with nice shape to help him out with his game. Instead of me playing around with balls and leaving him hooked all day. Hell, he wanted to learn how to play better so bad that I even stopped him once and let him know he was playing the incorrect ball with ball in hand when he had 3 left and the 8 ball.
 
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tomatoshooter

Well-known member
I think favor might not be the word. I feel lesser players believe they have more of a chance to " hang " if the better player can't run racks. I will always think if you win the game you should break. IMHO
Yeah, to me it's about not letting a lesser player get run over. Both formats have their place. I played a nine ball tournament a few weeks ago. Single elimination, race to 4, winner breaks. Including gas, food, beverage, and entry fee, I paid $40 to watch a guy play pool for 24 minutes. He's obviously a better player than me but I played him previously, race to 4, alternate break and it was 4-2 instead of 4-0.
 

Willowbrook Wolfy

Going pro
Gold Member
Yeah, to me it's about not letting a lesser player get run over. Both formats have their place. I played a nine ball tournament a few weeks ago. Single elimination, race to 4, winner breaks. Including gas, food, beverage, and entry fee, I paid $40 to watch a guy play pool for 24 minutes. He's obviously a better player than me but I played him previously, race to 4, alternate break and it was 4-2 instead of 4-0.
That’s a rough tournament format! Short race, single elimination. Did they at least give the option for you to match if somebody ran the first 4 on you?
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
That’s a rough tournament format! Short race, single elimination. Did they at least give the option for you to match if somebody ran the first 4 on you?
It's a Monday night. I usually don't mind the short format. I got to the table in each game but he never left me anything I could capitalize on. It was extra frustrating because I was playing pretty well, definitely in the better half of my range. Maybe his Fargo went up and pushed him over the limit.

Everybody gets run over sooner or later and that's part of the game but that was not a fun evening.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
If psychology is not a factor, probability and statistics has a definite and rather surprising answer to this question.

Consider all of the following formats for a race to N games:

Winner breaks
Alternate break
Loser breaks
Winner of the flip says who will break each game but cannot assign more than N breaks to either player
Winner of the flip breaks N times and then the other player breaks N-1 times

The amazing result from probability and statistics is that all of these break formats give the same advantage to the better player.

That means you can choose a format that is good for other reasons without worrying about giving more/less advantage to the better player.
 
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